March 16, 2021

A Shot Towards Ending the Pandemic

I'd marked the date "March 15" on my calendar—that was the date that I would become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. 

I'd signed up for all the notifications, but I didn't trust that they would actually notify me in any timely manner. 

And I'd already completely lost trust in my primary care physician in LA, who's lost my test results before and forgotten that I'd been in for a physical—likely distracted by her stint on reality TV. (But that's a story for another day.) 

So, I knew it would be up to me to sign up to get the jab the moment the spots opened up online. 

I tried to book an appointment a few days before just to see what would happen. I reached the equivalent of an internet brick wall. 

But on the night of Sunday, March 14, I saw a message online that indicated that spots for the new eligibility tier had opened up early—and in the hour before midnight, I began clicking around to find a place to get the shot. 

Patience isn't one of my virtues. After trying two of the local hospitals and one of the local pharmacies, I gave up and typed in "Valencia, CA" as my location.

And lo, there were plenty of appointments available at the Six Flags Magic Mountain "MegaPOD"—the kind of sizable point of distribution site found elsewhere at stadium parking lots and college campuses. 

Of course, although it was a 30-mile drive in the rain and fog to get there, a theme park was the perfect place for me to be vaccinated. 

After all, Six Flags Magic Mountain is the "Thrill Capital of the World"—and I was thrilled to take a step towards getting this pandemic over with. 

A thrilling day, indeed!

I'd heard that the Magic Mountain vaccination site wasn't just available, but also organized...

...but I didn't realize that weaving my way through the coned-off parking lot lanes would be so fun!

With the Lex Luthor Drop of Doom and the Scream coaster looming in the background... felt like driving a low-speed obstacle course...

...where the prize for completing it would be a stab in the arm at the end. 

After checking my ID and eligibility at two different stations, I finally rounded that final corner to Lane 12...

...where I slowly inched my way towards what looked to me like a circus tent... my heart began to beat faster. 

Sure, I was excited—but I was also nervous, given my propensity to pass out after getting a shot

Fortunately, everybody working the site was so nice and welcoming, it felt like I had my own cheering squad supporting me until I got to the moment of truth. 

It's not that I hate needles. I hate it when needles hurt and make my fight-or-flight response kick in (which inevitably chooses flight). 

Fortunately, there's a mandatory 15-minute waiting period after getting stabbed—just in case anybody does pass out. 

It's a bit silly because you're behind the wheel of your own car. They tell you to put it in park, roll down your window, and turn off your engine—because if you faint, you don't want them to have to break their way in to get at you. 

I'll admit I felt woozy. But I'm a big baby. And I'm sure the visceral memory of passing out in the past unreasonably predisposed me to feeling dizzy. 

During those 15 minutes, as I waited for 11:27 a.m. to roll around, I reclined my driver's seat and put my foot up on the dash. I put down my phone. I tried to be mindful of my condition so I could ask for help if I needed it. 

But I was so out of it, I didn't notice that the car ahead of me had already pulled away—and that the staff was telling me my 15 minutes were up and I could go. 

I thanked them profusely as my car seemed to roll away of its own volition. 

I knew I was in no condition to drive another 30 miles back home, so I hunkered down at the Saugus Cafe, LA County's oldest restaurant (founded 1886) for a half a tuna melt and some Diet Coke. 

Today, a day later, my arm still hurts and my head is still in the clouds. But I am grateful. And I'm excited to return in a few weeks. 

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